This 13-year-old is trying to save the world one ecosystem at a time

A 13-Year-Old Has Invented A Completely New Approach To Cleaning Up Oil Spills broadcomfinalistSCIENCE More: Oil Spill in Deepwater Science Fair Project.
A 13-Year-Old Has Invented A Completely New Approach To Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Project Management Institute | PMI

by JESSICA ORWIG (broadcomfinalist)

Chythanya Murali with her science fair poster.

This 13-year-old is trying to save the world one ecosystem at a time.

Chythanya Murali, an eighth grader from Arkansas, has created a safe, effective, non-conventional method to clean oil spills, by harnessing the cleaning properties of bacteria — specifically the enzymes they use to break down oil particles. These enzymes disassemble oil molecules, making way for the bacteria to convert it into harmless compounds.

Advances in oil clean up are dearly needed. Right now, the mixtures of oil-cleaning enzymes that we use can be more harmful than helpful to the environment. In 2012, a study found a chilling discovery about the oil-cleaning agents dispersed in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. When combined with the oil itself, the resulting mixture was 52 times more toxic to small animals like plankton than oil alone.

In fact, it was this very same spill that motivated Murali to make a difference. “My inspiration for this project began [from] the immense damage caused by the BP oil spill in early 2010.”Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill_ _May_24,_2010
Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill_ _May_24,_2010
NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response
Sunlight illuminated the lingering oil slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24, 2010.

To improve oil-cleaning methods, Murali designed a science fair project that explored the different mixtures of oil-eating enzymes and oil-breaking-down bacterias, to see how they effect the marine environment.

“The combination of bio-additive enzymes and oil-degrading bacteria as a novel combination for short and long-term cleaning, and its effect on ecosystems was not explored before,” Murali told Business Insider.

So it only seemed natural to Murali to combine the two and see what happened. She discovered that in a small-scale aquarium, the combination of her chosen oil-cleaning agents could help remove oil while preserving the health of the overall ecosystem, something that some of the oil-cleaning agents we use today cannot achieve.

Murali hopes her new approach can be further developed and one day, help clean up oil spills. Earlier this month, her science fair oil-breakdown project won her a position as a Broadcom Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering Rising Stars (MASTERS) finalist. She is one of 30 Broadcom MASTERS finalists in the country.

Murali has yet to apply her mixture on a large scale to test its commercial potential, so she might run into trouble scaling up the project.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region
Oil spill response actions near drill site May 27, 2010.

“I did not have the funding to conduct this on a larger scale, so it would need more time and support… to see if it works in in vivo conditions,” she said. “Afterwards, this novel combination of biological agents can be used to clean oil spills in real world scenarios.”

If she won this year’s Broadcom MASTERS grand prize of $25,000, that would certainly help bring her closer to that goal.

SEE ALSO: The Stuff We Use To Clean Up Oil Spills Might Make The Oil MORE Toxic

READ MORE: A Massive Oil Spill Is Threatening Mexico’s Third Largest City’s Water Supply

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Humanity Has Been Cut-off from Its Future

tumblr_nbjeq33Aog1txl703o1_500Humanity Has Been Cut-off from Its Future

Source: Casey Research, by Stephen Belmont

As much as we may complain about a multitude of things going wrong in the world, I suspect that many of us have a nagging impression—in a seldom-visited but persistent corner of our minds—that we’re living through desperately boring times.

These are very loud times, of course, but that doesn’t make them less boring.

An endless stream of bad news passes over our screens every day, accompanied by the best flashing images that the entertainment corps can come up with… yet somehow we know that it’s all an empty set of distractions.

And our instincts are right. Aside from the Internet, the past twenty years have been a snore, filled with sameness and conformity. They have featured no goals save bodily comfort and no aspirations save existence and status. Underlying it all has been a palette of manufactured fears that can only be salved by buying the right products or electing the right politicians. It’s been an age that rewarded neuters and punished vigorous individuals.

It all reminds me of a phrase from the late ‘50s:

In the US, you have to be a deviant or die of boredom.

Certainly a few people have had exciting and meaningful lives during these years, but they were definitely not people who followed mainstream paths; they were, in the proper sense of the word, deviants.

“Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish”
The phrase above comes from the Bible’s book of Proverbs, and it expresses an important truth: Humans, in order to live effectively and happily, need a goal—a vision—to pursue.

This is known as “teleological motivation” (or simply “teleology”), and it shows up in areas ranging from small to large. For example, when you decide to walk across a room, you don’t plan the contractions of your muscles, you just define the goal and activate your will; subconscious systems take over from there. From top to bottom, that’s just how we work.

So, with no goal, with no vision, we languish. And that’s been the problem for a long time now.

Are status and sex really all we have to grasp for? Are we no more than clever apes, chasing the same prizes they do, albeit more elegantly?

If you ask people “Where are we all going?,” you’ll get empty looks in response. And that’s because we have nowhere to go. There is no vision in our times, and the only quasi-visions we have are “elect Senator X” or “win the big game.” These are hardly appropriate goals for an actualized human life.

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California Is Burning Up by JAKE FLANAGIN

By JAKE FLANAGINA video highlights the desperate condition of farmers battling drought in California’s once-verdant Central Valley.Published: September 29, 2014 at 4:00AMfrom NYT
from Scott Phinney.

Heather Myers, CPO
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